Just when it looked like the Ducks were about to blow a three goal lead late in the third, Oilers coach Craig MacTavish made a gutsy move that backfired, costing his team the game and possibly the season.
To succeed you need your leaders to take control, and Tuesday night in Edmonton was an example of that. Captain Scott Niedermayer, who had a goal and two assists, led the Ducks to their seventh win in the last eight games. The win boosted them from 11th to 7th in the conference, tied with the Preds at 84 points.
Anaheim didn't look to be ready early on, allowing the first goal of the game. After a couple of fights from Ryan and Parros, the Ducks evened up the score with a goal from Sheldon Brookbank.
The second period couldn't have started better for the Ducks. Scott Niedermayer scored a power play goal just 33 seconds into the frame. The game looked to be all but over when Scott passed the puck to brother Rob on the side boards, who then put a weak one passed Roloson, giving the Ducks a 4-1 lead through two periods.
Edmonton turned it into a game late in the third when Grebeshkov and Stortini both scored just over a minute apart. With over a minute left and down by a goal, Craig MacTavish called for a stick measurement on Teemu Selanne. Ducks fans were nervously watching the refs measure that stick, assuming the worst. After a couple of minutes, the refs deemed the stick legal and issued the Oilers a two minute penalty. The Ducks went on the score an empty net power play goal, and gave them an extremely important two points.
Coach Carlyle commented on the risk MacTavish took saying “You better be 100% sure. The curve is something you can't really call any more because it's 3/4 an inch and it's a big curve. Teemu is right on the edge. We make sure, and it's part of our trainers' responsibility that he plays with a legal stick.” After the game Selanne, with a smirk, told the media that he was going to send MacTavish and autographed stick.
The Ducks visit the Canucks on Thursday night. Vancouver has been one of the leagues hottest team in the last couple of months, so the Ducks need to be ready for them.
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Written by Dan Caristo